In 2009, the CPUC issued a Decision adopting General Order (GO) 133-C, which specifies telephone service quality standards for network technical quality, customer service, installation, repairs, and billing. As a result of this Decision, the CPUC issued its Telephone Carrier Service Quality Report” in March 2011. This report showed sub-standard service quality based on data provided by telephone companies, as well as provided information regarding outages in AT&T’s and Verizon’s networks impacting 250,000 customers in Southern California during the winter storms of December 2010 and January 2011.
In December 2011, the CPUC initiated a Rulemaking to:
- Review telephone companies’ performance in meeting service quality standards.
- Assess whether existing GO 133-C service quality standards and measures are adequate and relevant to the current market and regulatory environment.
- Assess whether there is a need to establish a penalty mechanism for sub-standard service performance.
In May 2012, the CPUC issued Ruling requiring telephone carriers to provide data on issues such as:
- Winter outages of 2010-2011
- Internal standards for service quality
- How networks are monitored
- Industry best practices
In February 2013, the CPUC issued a Decision directing CPUC staff to hire a consultant to evaluate telecommunications facilities, and ordered AT&T and Verizon to split proportionally the costs of the study based on their respective share of total intrastate revenues. The cost of the study was capped at $1.5 million. The CPUC has not yet performed this study.
In September 2014, the CPUC issued a Ruling asking parties to comment on its Staff Report, “California Wireline Telephone Service Quality Pursuant to General Order 133-C, Calendar Years 2010 Through 2013,” which includes:
- Data on the performance of wireline carriers under the CPUC’s current measurement and reporting standards.
- Findings that AT&T and Verizon failed to meet standards for Out of Service Repair Intervals and Verizon failed to meet standards for Answer Time.
- Recommendations to adopt:
- A penalty / incentive methodology
- Modifications to the methodology of Out of Service Repair Intervals
- Service quality rules on interconnected VoIP and wireless carriers
ORA's Policy Position
ORA’s objective is to ensure that customers receive affordable, safe, and reliable communications services. To ensure high Service Quality, ORA recommends that the CPUC should require telecommunications carriers and service providers to meet established minimum service quality and reliability standards, which will be enhanced by:
- Establishing standards for all carriers and service providers, regardless of the technology platform used.
- Requiring standards that are seamless to customers.
- Prioritizing public safety communications in network management.
- Utilizing consistent application of measurement and reporting standards so that carriers and service providers cannot game the numbers.
- Requiring customer refunds for service outages when the level of such outages exceed established standards.
- Imposing penalties for failing to meet the minimum standards.
ORA also urges the CPUC to complete the independent evaluation it ordered in February 2013, which will gauge the condition of telephone carrier infrastructure and facilities and provide the basis for ensuring that facilities can support a level of service consistent with public safety and reliability. The study should:
- Determine the causes of the service quality and reliability failures of Verizon and AT&T.
- Establish best practices for service quality and reliability, including investment strategies, facility repair, staffing, and maintenance.
- Ensure a geographically diverse sample balanced between urban, suburban, rural, and very low population areas in order to more accurately capture California’s diverse demographics across race and income.
See ORA’s October 24, 2014 Opening Comments on the CPUC’s Staff Report.
See ORA’s November 13, 2014 Reply Comments on the CPUC’s Staff Report.
See the Proceeding docket for details on CPUC Rulings & Decisions and Parties’ Pleadings.
Telecommunications Carriers’ Service Quality Reports